I recently wrote about how Qatar Airways is going to phase out their A340s by the end of the spring. The airline is slowly beginning to focus more on its newer planes, and retiring their older widebodies. This applies to some of their A330s and eventually to their A380s. It seems that the airline has plans to redeploy the A380 to new destinations soon. AirlineRoute reports that the airline will no longer fly the A380 to Perth, nor fly the A380 to Bangkok.
Why is this Happening?
Qatar Airways recently launched A380 flights to Frankfurt, after they streamlined their schedule to allow the aircraft to fly to Frankfurt on a daily rotation. I was not surprised to see the Perth flight be downgraded to a 777, since I often find First and Business class award space on the route. This makes a lot of sense, since the airline doesn’t seem to have a lot of connecting traffic. I am likewise not too shocked to see the A380 get taken off the Bangkok route, since the airline flies 6-7 daily flights. I can’t imagine there is that much demand to have 6 flights on widebody aircraft PLUS the A380.
Where to Next with the A380?
I am going to speculate where I think the A380 will be redeployed. The airline flies once daily to Sydney, Paris, Frankfurt, Melbourne, London and Guangzhou with the A380.I don’t think that any route except London could have enough demand for an A380. If they decide to add another A380 to London, they would provide 8 more first class seats, that are inaccessible to mileage redemptions. However, I smell that the airline will launch a new A380 route with the 2 freed up airframes. Where? I don’t know. Speculatively, the airline could launch the A380 to New York, their most prestigious US route.
There are limited gates that can take an A380 in New York JFK, so I don’t think this is likely. They could also launch A380 flights to Tokyo or Beijing. There is demand for more flights to Asia from Doha, and having First class on the route to Tokyo would be very beneficial. I think Beijing is also a good candidate, because the airline recently purchased a stock in China Southern. Although the two airlines do not codeshare yet, I can see them starting a codeshare agreement in the near future. This would mean that they would deploy their largest aircraft to the two largest China Southern hubs. Alternatively, a similar argument can be made for flights to Hong Kong, since they also purchased a stake in Cathay Pacific and have a codeshare agreement.
I don’t know where the A380s will go, but I suspect that they will be deployed to Asia. Qatar Airways recent investments in carriers in the region point to that kind of development. Nonetheless, I am very speculative as to what they will do. They can also very well be retiring them early, as they will be replaced in a couple of years by the 777-9X that Qatar ordered. Sadly, the A380 will go the way of the A340. Qatar plans of phasing them out by 2021/2022. I hope to see the airline add first class to their 777X, as I loved my experience flying them. We will see what happens in the coming months!